Residents say living in downtown San Antonio is worth cost

Cost of living not biggest factor for many

Author: Charles Gonzalez, Reporter, Anchor,
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:10:51 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 16 2013 10:00:37 PM CST

Mayor Julian Castro's vision of the city's future, outlined in the SA2020 plan, calls for adding 15 percent more residents to the downtown core as well as building 5,000 more units.

In the last two years, nearly 1,000 units have been built or are nearing completion, thanks to over $13 million in city incentives.

Elizabeth Anderson moved from Alamo Heights to the Pearl Brewery to be closer to work and the city's culture.

"It could get pretty ugly. Sometimes, it was more than an hour a day in the car, which was great catching up on the news in the car," said Anderson in reference to her total daily commute. "But that's a pretty big waste of time."

Now it takes her just three minutes by car. She's close enough to walk and has ridden a bike occasionally through the city's B-Cycle bike share program, but often takes her car because of client meetings.

She's part of a quickly growing trend of new and current residents relocating closer to the urban core.

"I liked the idea of a walkable environment," said Kelly Beevers, who works downtown and lives at 1221 Broadway. "The idea of living downtown, for me, was sort of this romantic idea of being in the middle of activity and lucky for me it turned out to be just that."

Rent at many of the newer downtown complexes ranges from $710 for a 456-square foot studio at 1221 to $3,796 for a 2,072-square-foot townhome-style apartment at 1800 Broadway, high prices but not much different from other costly areas of the city much further from downtown.

"I did a lot of analysis and I looked at if you're looking at the North side where I was living, a one-bedroom apartment with sort of luxury amenities is pretty comparable for what I'm paying for a studio right now," said Anderson, who spent a year looking before settling on her space at Pearl.

"Where you get your value is where you find the balance of quality of life mostly because you're not spending a lot of time on the road," said Natasha Sattler, business manager at the Vistana which was the pioneer of the new upscale downtown living opening in 2008. "You're enjoying the things people call San Antonio."

"There's just so much happening downtown and there's a real energy and momentum," added Anderson.

"Living downtown was a little more expensive for me than living where I lived before but the tradeoffs, obviously, were less time in the car, but also the places where I wanted to go grab a drink with my friends or catch a show at SAMA or go to the San Pedro playhouse or the Pearl Farmer's Market," said Beevers.

Beevers and Anderson are both young, single professionals and might make up a big portion of the downtown migration -- but they are not alone.

"We also have the snowbirds and empty-nesters, people who are tired of the big house," said Sattler.

"There is a gentleman in my complex who's nearing 90 and there are people that just got out of Trinity University," added Beevers. "I think that no matter what age you are, living downtown gives you an opportunity to be in the middle of the culture and the authenticity of the city."